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Dead Possum Under Trailer Home

10.14.2004 - This job was extra super duper hard and difficult and aggravating. In fact, dead animals under trailer homes make me angry. This job is always a bitch. In fact, it's pointless to say dead "animal" under a trailer home, because it's always "dead opossum under trailer home". The animal is always a danged opossum. I don't know why I'm complaining. It's not like I care about what the specie is. I guess maybe a little variety would be nice.

But if the job lacks variety of animal, it doesn't lack variety in architecture, and this particular trailer home featured a very annoying architectural element - these metal braces with very sharp edges. I squirmed and crawled as usual, in desperate search for the dead possum and I scraped myself on the braces several times. It was hot and dirty and spidery and it's really hard to find the dead animal, because it always dies up in the vapor barrier. Every time. Why can't the danged things die on the ground? No, they crawl up into the most difficult area to search. I usually have to do some exploratory surgery into the vapor barrier in order to narrow it down. This one was extremely difficult. I'm too annoyed to write about it any more, so here, the photo. Sorry if you don't like looking at three hundred and eighty two maggots.

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Reader Email: Hi David,
I know that giving out free advice probably isn’t your meat ‘n potatoes…..but as you offer to take questions, here I am.

I am looking into buying a house that has sat empty for some time. It has been somewhat difficult to get much info about it…until today. I finally was contacted by the realtor who notified me that it was back on the market since the prospective buyer and the bank couldn’t come to terms. I got a walkthrough the place today and it would be safe to say that it’s a fixer upper…mainly with a lot of filth…otherwise basically a lot of potential.

So why am I writing you…? The last room I went into was the master bath. Upon reflection, I see that the lady showing the place wasn’t exactly steering me into this room and kind of wandered off calling my attention to things NOT in that room. Well I went over to the tub and…what the….what….what IS that….mess of whatever-the-hell…HAIR…BONES…other?

As you will probably not be surprised, after staring at it for a moment I realized that at one end of the tub curled up over the drain is what appears to be a possum. It looks like its been there undisturbed every bit of a year and it had obviously been worked over thoroughly by flies/maggots. Later, I found a zillion dead green flies piled up on the floor by the sliding door in the master bedroom, obviously the adults that arose from the maggots.

So my question is….what would your thoughts be on cleaning that mess up, disinfecting, etc. I’m an excellent do-it-yourselfer—any considerations beyond a general cleanup with a stern disinfectant? Any potential health issues from the flies that were obviously moving around there at one time? Any other thoughts? I know that to get financing, lenders typically require that the property is Safe, Secure, Sanitary. Actually, I’m wondering if the bank even knows about it, given the realtor’s response when I called her attention to it—she seemed to try act surprised but wasn’t curious enough to come and see for herself.

Incidentally, one other thing I noticed is that there was some pink insulation that had been blown into one of the A/C vents and I wonder if the critter had been in the ductwork and that’s how it got inside. There was also some soffit panels missing that may have gotten him into the attic.

All in all a lovely tour. I thought it might be an interesting anecdote for you given the subject matter on your website. Thanks in advance for your thoughts. --Jim

My response: Just clean it up the same way you'd clean up anything - gather and throw out the debris, vacuum, scrub it with any household disinfectant. If there are holes in the house, seal them shut.

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